Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel will bring a 60 million euro donation with her on Friday when she visits the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial for the first time since she took office 14 years ago.
The donation, which will make Germany the largest donor to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, will be announced by Merkel during a ceremony marking the foundation’s 10th anniversary.
Half of the sum is being provided by Germany’s federal government; the other half is from the regional governments. The funds are to be used to ensure the memorial will stay preserved, Merkel said.
“I am very happy that we could agree that the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial will get additional money,” she said after meeting German state premiers. “It is a good message that I take with me to Poland tomorrow.”
Merkel’s visit, which came at the invitation of the foundation, is a tradition that was initiated by her predecessors, each of whom traveled to the site at least once to pay their respects during their tenure in office.
“Auschwitz is a museum but is also the biggest cemetery in the world,” museum director Piotr Cywinski told Reuters. “[Memory] is the key to building the present and the future.”